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QATC Annual Conference - Nashville
The Quality Assurance and Training Connection held their annual conference this month in Nashville, Tennessee. This three day event provided the opportunity to network with professionals in the call center industry to learn the latest information on quality assurance, training trends, and technologies. Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner, CrmXchange had a chance to meet with several of the companies in attendance. Below are highlights from her conversations with GamEffective, NICE, Verint, and Call Criteria.
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Sheri Greenhaus spent some time with Dee Nilles, Senior Consultant, GamEffective to discuss the benefits of implementing a gamification platform.
Please tell us about GamEffective.
GamEffective is an engagement platform which incorporates gamification
techniques into the workplace. It’s not a ‘game’ as much as it’s adding game
mechanics to the day to day work. We’re
a learning platform and an engagement platform. Performance is driven by
rewarding and recognizing individuals for each and every accomplishment.
What is game mechanics?
With typical game mechanics you earn points by the
performance of tasks. Points lead to levels.
Agents can earn badges or coins. Individuals are rewarded (by points)
for doing what they should be doing. It gives employees encouragement to want
to keep performing.
What have people been saying about gamification? Is there more
The name ‘gamification’ is growing faster than the understanding,
which adds excitement, but also adds challenges due to misperceptions. Even at this QA conference, companies see gamification
as something nice to have, but not as a core tool to drive business performance
and outcomes. Gamification gives agents a little more control and they feel
more empowered to excel in their jobs.
Agents’ jobs are more difficult now than previously. How do contact
center executives convince management that gamification should be a core?
It comes down to working with the teams, show areas of
opportunity, and then do a return on investment. With the right gamification
platform, most companies achieve ROI in 6 -9 months. It’s similar to a fitness
tracker for work. It encourages and
changes agent behavior so they want to do more and do it better. They see a
result besides just a paycheck. At
GamEffective we not only show ROI but we also help drive additional operational
Does Gamification use psychology tools in order to get agents to look
at their performance and engagement?
This comes into intrinsic versus extrinsic. Gamification creates an emotional engagement.
Before working with GamEffective, almost every company had monthly incentives. This
led to leadership getting discouraged. Month
over month it was always the same winners.
This can be a thing. The intent is to retain your top talent, and companies
do their job by rewarding top performers. At Gameffective, we focus on daily and weekly
challenges which creates a much broader variety of winners. The platform
recognizes individual progress. For
example, an agent could be meeting all their KPIs but they don’t work harder
because they’re too far away from being in the top 10%. If we can create a
culture of learning and personal engagement, business results are better.
When a company is just starting with gamification what do they first
need to consider?
We start with a discovery.
Discovery identifies behaviors that are driving the outcomes. We then target those behaviors. Using a
staggered approach, we begin with the biggest areas of opportunity.
When should a company consider using gamification?
I always recommend gamification. If done from day one, it
becomes part of the DNA of the company.
How have the agents looked at this change?
New agents have no problem, but with more tenured agents, it
takes a bit more time. We spend about 4
-5 weeks promoting the platform and getting people excited. We do regular surveys. Feedback has been very positive. On average
79-87% of agents surveyed say it’s helped them with their job.
Do you recommend agents’ input be involved when starting a program?
Always. Anytime you incorporate more people when implementing
the platform, they take it personally.
They are invested and want the platform to succeed.
Any final thoughts for our audience?
If you have not yet considered gamification, please look
into it. Currently about 85% of
companies use some type of manual gamification, such as leader boards. Only about 17% have gamification formalized. Research
is showing that the benefits of gamification include not only performance improvement,
but also an increase in engagement.
Subsequently attrition and absenteeism are reduced.
We want all of our clients to succeed. With GamEffective, you
have a dedicated team to ensure successful implementation. Gamification is new to
everyone so we share our best practices across all of our clients so every
launch is better than the previous.
Sheri Greenhaus spent a few moments during QATC in Nashville
discussing quality processes with Kim Steele, Sr. Business Consultant, Lauren Maschio, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, and Amir Cohen, Product Manager from NICE Systems. Below are excerpts from their conversation.
What quality process trends are you seeing?
The most prevalent trend we’re seeing is companies looking
for unique ways to evaluate digital interactions. Companies are wanting to
evaluate the entire conversation which may entail several interactions that go back and forth between an agent and customers versus a specific interaction segment. It is a top-down
view instead of a look at the most granular level. This type of quality
analysis has been gaining more interest over the past few months.
Is looking at the whole interaction a difficult task or is it
I think today it’s more difficult than it should be because from
a vendor perspective we’ve been focused on the interaction and the agent. Now we
want to take that up a level and look at the entire process. It’s similar to
evaluating the customer journey but this journey is an internal process. The
customer might not even realize they’ve been chatting with multiple agents.
I’ve always thought it was one agent to a chat. Can there be multiple agents on one chat?
Yes, it’s getting there.
Some customers are only using digital channels, like Facebook messenger
or WhatsApp. The question today is “How are they going to do quality analysis
for newly introduced digital channels”? One
of the key problems is being able to provide a platform that will give the same
experience throughout all the channels.
In some instances, the agent can wait before answering a
customer and during this time receive live coaching from their manager. The manager can also comment to the customer
Another interesting point to explore is how the firm will build
a quality plan since there isn’t a clear beginning and end to the
interaction. Agents are working now in dynamic environments, taking care of many cases at one time. Companies will need to think about how their quality
program will address this and how will agents be scored.
How do you score if multiple agents are chatting with one customer? How is scoring made fair and adequate?
What we need to look at is “how is it ending? Did the
customer receive what they needed”? The
journey is less important as long as the customer got what they needed and they are satisfied with the results.
How do you provide training for agents when they’re not receiving
individual evaluation forms?
Since we’re looking at the whole interaction this will also
make the coaching process look different in the future. For example, we will need
to use a time block to capture everything the agent did during that window. Did
they follow the process? The manager is able to live monitor the agent’s
interactions and be available to help in real time.
AI can also be used to provide coaching in real time. We
believe it’ll have immediate impact.
We’re talking about a radical change in the quality process. How do you get the agent to buy into this
We’ve been advocating that contact centers should be moving
away from agent level evaluations and transition to metric driven evaluations. It’s
an easier way to show that your department is achieving its goals.
As we wrap up are there any words of wisdom or final thoughts for
There are three important items to keep in mind for your
- be open to change
- keep agents engaged – make agents stakeholders in the quality process by asking for their input and providing coaching and feedback
- make sure your quality program aligns with
company objectives – you won’t receive senior level buy in if unless you can prove
value in your program
Remember that quality processes are for the agents. Happier agents can result in happier customers.
During QATC in Nashville, Sheri Greenhaus, Partner, CrmXchange, had a chance to talk with Andressa Marlin, Product Strategy Manager for Verint.
How would you describe Verint to our audience?
Verint is a customer engagement solutions organization. We cover everything for the customer’s experience, from knowledge management or engagement management all the way through the customer journey. We focus on Voice of the Customer and traditional workforce optimization such as quality management and workforce management.
What trends are you seeing with agent evaluations?
We are seeing changes in the ability to monitor and understand quality at a higher rate. There has been an increasing need for organizations to make sure they are complying with corporate as well as government regulations. To help ensure this, there is a greater need ask the right questions and use the correct forms. Many organizations are re-evaluating to be sure that they have the employees, customers and enterprise in mind when scoring the evaluations.
Major trends we are currently seeing:
- Automation helps with the ability to gather information
quickly while ensuring compliance.
- Quality analysts are inspiring employees to watch
for behaviors which will help them be more successful.
- A greater
focus on the customer journey in order to fit the voice of the brand in the
Are you seeing any trends on allowing the employees evaluate themselves?
We are finding that employees are hard on themselves. By providing them the tools and technology to hear how they sound on calls, and to see how they’re interacting with their customers, lets them hear their own behaviors and autocorrect.
I have seen at this conference, more and more customers that we interact with are giving this information to their employees so that they have a chance to grow, hear themselves, and really evaluate what they would like to do differently in their own calls.
In regards to agent evaluations, if an agent disagrees with what’s been recorded in the evaluation, what voice do they have in the dispute process?
I ascribe to giving the voice of the employee as well as the voice of the customer experience. We suggest giving employees a chance to provide feedback to the coach, whether negative or positive. There should be a methodology in place for the agent to go back, ask someone else from the same team to evaluate them.
Forms are always a big topic. Are there any changes that you’re seeing in forms?
Yes, there are two. Of the subjective questions that they’re asking, for example, how are they brand impacting and how do they impact the division the customer interacts with?
We can both think of organizations where we make a phone call and we don’t want to talk to the billing department. They’re starting to evaluate how they’re impacting that brand or how the customer thinks of the division within the organization; what are the questions they should be asking that impact what that would be. And then on the objective side, it’s really interesting when you listen to the calls, how many things an employee has to say that are script adherence to be certain that they’ve covered everything... from an interest rate or making sure the customer understands that if they make a late payment there will be late payment fees and wanting to cover those things on an objective level and just getting it out of the way so they’re making sure that all of those different questions are covered on a form.
Are you finding that agents have input about what goes on a form?
This was the topic of a break-out session I took part in yesterday. Employees have been asking for peer focus groups to provide inputs for the form. This information may give an outsider a new perspective that could be used in surveys. Having input from a wide array of different people - from employees on the front lines, quality analysts, and trainers - leads to a greater visibility of what goes into that form.
I imagine with all the input agents have today agent turnover would start to decrease.
Voice of the Employee is definitely implemented to reduce turnover and give the employee a greater voice into what they can contribute to the organization. We’ve seen the research where employees that feel they have a voice and feel like they’re making a difference for their organization have a higher tendency to stay with that organization because they can see where they attribute to its success. This is exactly why we want to give those employees a voice.
It sounds like in order to keep the customer happy you also need to keep the employee happy. Is this what you’re finding?
There have been statistics that show when using Voice of the Employee, giving employees a greater engagement, increases the dollars attributed to the customer experience. Customers have greater loyalty because they’re interacting with more positive employees.
As we wrap up, what are some final thoughts that you would like to convey to the CrmXchange audience who is thinking about a VOE program? What should they be focusing on or considering?
In a Voice of the Employee program several factors are important to remember:
- When Coaching, allow the employee the ability to
gain the same insights you have
- Employee should have the chance to provide
feedback on information they’ve been given
- Providing Milestones or Measurements allows the
employee to see their own improvement
- Employees should feel there’s a journey to
success available to them
Using these factors, you can help make your employees part
of the success of your organization.
At QATC in Nashville, Chad Tatton, COO and Co-Founder, Call
Criteria, took a few moments to discuss Call Criteria’s Voice Technology with
Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner of CrmXchange.
Please tell us a little about Call Criteria.
Call Criteria is a third-party quality control company that
specializes in the contact center space. We marry technology in the form of
voice analytics with human quality analytics review. Historically, our model
has been in the human quality analytics side. Over the years, our clients have
been increasingly interested in voice analytics. We combine voice analytics with a backend user
interface. Our clients use this interface to review information we generate in
order for them to improve performance of their agents through coaching.
Where do you see the state of voice analytics today?
Like a lot of technologies, it is a rapidly improving. Voice
analytics from years ago is not the same as voice analytics today, and it’s
getting better all the time. Take for example key word spotting, which takes a
phone call recording, converts it into text, and identifies key words in that
text. The ability of a machine to determine
what’s been said has improved dramatically.
As voice analytics improves, resources can be shifted more towards the
technology and away from the human side to the extent that companies can
concentrate more on proper coaching and have accountability for your team.
What do you do with an analytics file?
We’re a little different from voice analytic vendors. For
Call Criteria, voice analytics is used primarily to identify the calls out of
all of recorded calls that should go through a more comprehensive human review.
We identify calls that have a high level of content that would provide coaching
for agents. We’re scoring with humans. Over
time, when we use a comprehensive score card, we learn what a lot of things
sound like. If an agent is committing a violation about a disclosure, we can
then teach the machine what it sounds like. We use data to train the machine to do a
better job of identifying calls that would go to the human review process.
If a human is scoring, how do you eliminate human error? How are humans
trained to know what to look for?
It’s much like any other job, you need to understand the
content and understand what you’re listening for. Every scorecard is different,
and before someone can score they go through a complete training schedule. First
it’s classroom training, followed by side-by-side, then testing, and finally certification
processes. Ongoing training is a similar process, 20% of calls scored by humans
are also scored by secondary team of calibrators and the answers are matched
up. If they don’t meet a certain level
of accuracy they go back to remediation.
Is the result of scoring to help with training. What do companies do with this information?
Using quality control, it’s the company’s job to ensure several
- Are calls are being handled correctly?
- Is the customer experience what is should be?
- Are you ensuring they’re not putting themselves in harm’s
way from a regulatory body?
- Are agents are saying the right things to
produce a sale?
As we score calls, we measure the proficiency and the results. From our backend system, our clients can easily see data such as: what is the most commonly most missed item, what agents are doing well and what agents are not. With a few clicks, clients can query “show me all the agents that failed the disclosure violation question on the scorecard”. They are taken straight to those phone calls.
The job of the contact center is to take that information
and change the action of the agent. Roughly 87% of coaching impact is lost if
not followed up by secondary coaching.
This is a staggering percentage. Companies often struggle with follow up
coaching. There are a lot of tools built into our system aimed at giving our
clients the resources they need to be able to change the behavior of the agents
so that the objective of the phone call is at an optimum level.
What types of improvements are clients seeing?
It varies from client to client. The more engaged the clients are, the more
they look at results, create coaching sessions and follow up with their agents,
the more of an impact they’re going to have.
Do you see companies using more outsourcing services? What is the trend?
Overall, the tolerance for outsourcing has improved. We’re seeing a trend in the quality control
side towards outsourcing largely due to voice analytics. On the QA human review
side, the trend is also going there because of technology. Outsourcing the quality control gives an
unbiased, neutral perspective and this is starting to be valued more and more.
As we wind up, any final thoughts for the CrmXchange audience?
Companies need to find some way to marry voice analytics
with human scoring. VA by itself at this
point is not comprehensive enough, it doesn’t have the ability to reason or to
make subjective decisions like a human would. The key is to find a way to use
technology to identify the calls where coaching opportunities are present. Using VA to identify calls to extract good
coaching opportunities is best combination.